Sam Easton may be a familiar face to you, whether you've stepped inside a comedy club across Canada, turned on your TV set, or visited your local multiplex over the last few years. He's toured feverishly with his edgy, high-energy stand-up comedy while also making time to appear in shows like The L Word and Howie Do It, and big screen features like Final Destination 3. But it's the latest project he's involved with -- the Bruce Clark play Incongruous, making its world premiere at the 2011 Winnipeg Comedy Festival -- that has Easton really excited.
The play, a deep look into the art and craft of stand-up comedy, was inspired by the comic philosophies of Irwin Barker, the acclaimed Winnipeg-born comedian who passed away last year after a three-year battle with cancer. Bruce Clark, who was a close friend of Barker's dating back to their early years in comedy in Winnipeg, chose to debut the new work at his hometown festival, and chose a talented cast to fill the three roles. And Easton, who is joined by Sean Cullen and Omar Khan, was the perfect choice to play the story's "young comic" -- not just because his own style and comedic sensibilities fit the role perfectly, but because he was also a close friend and great admirer of Barker's.
Having seen Incongruous on its first showing at the festival, I can definitely say that if you happen to be in Winnipeg this week, you do not want to miss the opportunity to see it with this cast. It's a fascinating look into the minds of stand-up comics, while also showing what goes into crafting a joke. If you're a comedian yourself, or just a fan of comedy, you owe it to yourself to head down to the Gas Station Theatre for the Wednesday or Saturday shows. (Easton is also doing a stand-up set during the festival, appearing alongside Darryl Lenox, Darcy Michael, and George Westerholm for a free show at the Lo Pub on Thursday night.)
I got the chance to speak with Easton at the Gas Station Theatre over the weekend during his rehearsals for Incongruous. We talked about his motivation for getting into comedy in the first place, his thoughts on the play, his friendship with and admiration for Irwin Barker, and why he likes to get as close to the edge as possible with his own stand-up comedy.
Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)